The Washington University Law Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD) program is designed for attorneys pursuing a career in academia, policy or scholarly legal research. The JSD program is very small, and it is focused on exceptional candidates with a sophisticated scholarly focus. The JSD degree program requires two years of residency on campus in St. Louis, Missouri, and it typically takes an additional year or more to complete.
For attorneys interested in a broad-based understanding of the U.S. legal system or in developing a specialty in a particular area, please contact our Admissions Office to discuss the LLM programs.
Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD)
Year 1 Residency: LLM Course Work
During the first year of residency, each JSD student must complete course work sufficient to earn an LLM degree at Washington University Law. JSD students may elect to pursue course work in any of the LLM programs offered by Washington University Law: they may choose broad exposure to U.S. law, or they may pursue a specialty in a particular substantive area. JSD admissions advisers are available to assist prospective JSD students with identifying the most beneficial LLM degree path.
Continuation to the second year of residency in the JSD program is contingent upon successful completion of the course work for an LLM degree.
Year 2 Residency: JSD Research and Dissertation
During the second year of residency in the JSD program, JSD students focus on refining and advancing their dissertation proposals with the assistance of an assigned faculty adviser. The JSD program emphasizes original research and writing that culminates in the preparation of a significant and extensive dissertation of publishable quality. In consultation with the faculty adviser, each JSD student will identify any advantageous additional course work; however, additional course work is not a requirement of the program.
The JSD dissertation should demonstrate not just an awareness of a body of material but also the synthesis of that material into a rigorous, high-quality analysis. It should be a work that, when published, will contribute to the field.
JSD Dissertation Committee: After a student is admitted to the JSD program, the JSD Admissions Committee will appoint a Dissertation Committee. Each Dissertation Committee is made up of at least three members, and the chair of the committee serves as the primary faculty adviser to the JSD candidate.
The dissertation must be completed and accepted by the candidate's Dissertation Committee (a) within five years of receipt of the LLM degree, for students who obtain their LLM from Washington University Law; or (b) within five years after admission to the JSD program. All JSD candidates will be expected to defend their dissertation vive voce. In extenuating circumstances, a dissertation can also be defended via a videoconference or a similar computer-facilitated meeting.